Hands Of A Clock


Hands Of A Clock

Sometimes life seems hard….. Greg walked into the Dojo changing room, put his bag down and sighed.

“You all right Greg?

“Yeah….  you know some days life just seems harder….”

“Tell me about it.”

“I almost didn’t come tonight, I had a hard day at work, the wife had cooked a great meal for the family, the house was warm and it was raining outside.  I didn’t want to come here – but just knew I had to….  The changing rooms are cold and my gi is still damp, I ache from head to toe and just feel very, very weary…”

“No Greg, I didn’t really mean tell me about it, I was just making light conversation….”

Greg laughed for the first time today and threw a playful punch.  They both made their way upstairs, giggling, punching and pinching each other like a pair of kids.

After the bow in ceremony, Greg seemed lifeless and listless, he moved with great difficulty, kept yawning and we could see that he was trying hard to concentrate.

“You really don’t look like you’re up for this tonight Greg” said sensei, “what’s up?”

“It’s difficult at the moment sensei, I feel so listless, and I feel that I’m just not improving lately.

“There can be many reasons that you feel listless at the moment Greg, it can depend on your job, home life, diet, boredom factor, amount of sleep and quality of sleep.”

“Yeah, I can think of a few of those that are affecting me at the moment, like trying to fit a quart into a pint pot, I miss meals and rush to get here and then don’t have the energy to give the training the attention that I feel it needs.

“You should eat a proper breakfast and lunch so that you can just snack before training…”

“I tend to skip breakfast, drink a coffee on the train, eat a sandwich or pie at lunch, nothing before training and then a reheated meal late at night when I get home…”

“Ouch” said sensei, no wonder you feel tired, you couldn’t get it more wrong.  Dieticians say that you should eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunchtime and a pauper in the evening, it will really help your training and give you far more energy.  Also try to organise your time in the most efficient way that you can, but you should find that with better health and more energy it will be easier.”

“All the same sensei, I still don’t feel that I’m improving like the others.”

“But you’re not taking into account the ‘hands of the clock’ syndrome.”

“‘Hands of the clock’ syndrome?  What’s that all about?”

“There is a range of time that you don’t notice.  For instance, you never see the hands of a clock moving, but they move all the same.”


“In the Martial Arts, your progress is very similar, you don’t always notice the change, but it happens all the same.”

“So how are we supposed to know whether we’ve improved?”

“That’s my job.  I determine when and by how much you’ve improved and give you the feedback and grade you accordingly.”

“But what about the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve improved?”

“You have to develop the wisdom to understand that when I’ve taught you a skill, you practice it and when you have a level of mastery it makes you feel you good, I then teach you the next skill and your mind understands it, but the body can’t do it yet and so you feel bad until you have practiced it sufficiently, then you feel good again.  In my eyes you are improving steadily and yet your emotions are on a roller coaster.  That’s why you need faith in my judgement.

Believe me, if you’re not putting in the effort, I’ll be the first to tell you!”

“I can believe that sensei!  So I really need to look at my time management, my diet, and get regular feedback from you?”

“That’s what I’m here for.  A good martial artist has to watch their life style, over the years I’ve seen so many people fail because they don’t review it.  As you step up your training, you need the right amount of rest, the right nutrition, the right family balance and you’ll find that negative acts like rushed meals and alcohol start to negate the work that you’re doing.  Particularly as you get older.”

“I’m not old yet sensei!”

“You’re older than you were, you can see negativity affecting your life where it didn’t before.  That’s why it’s important to realise it now.  Be pro active rather than reactive and think in front of events so that you’re not controlled by them.  If you get this right, you’ll enjoy a happy, healthy lifetime in the Martial Arts.”

“Don’t you think that the regime might be a bit harsh though sensei?”

“It’s hardly an athlete’s regime, just a question of balance and common sense.  If you don’t talk to your family and loved ones, then you pay the price.  If you don’t eat, drink and rest properly…  you pay the price.  If you don’t listen to sensei’s sage advice…..”

“I’ll pay the price, I think I get the message…..”

“Thank god for that, I was beginning to think I’d have to write it down in moron for you…”

Everyone laughed and the chant “Greg is a moron” went up as Greg chased the others back down to the changing rooms revitalised, and determined to organise his lifestyle more positively.

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